UR TELEVISION screens are dominated by celebrity chefs,soit’s nosurprise that their fancy equipment is making its way into upmarket kitchens. In some cases, it even comes with a real live chef to show purchasers how to use their new professional kit, for which they have forked out a four- or five-figure sum.
Blast chillers, sous-vide machines and miracle mixers (which sauté, stir and cook as well as merely chop and blend) have all been adapted for the home kitchen, where they are now as desirable as red sports cars and other boys’ toys for the home cook.
Mind you, it would be possible to buy several sports cars for the cost of Grand Cuisine from Electrolux. Not a name previously associated with the top end of kitchenappliances, it has put that right by work
SUMMER 2013 with top chefs like Tom Aikens and Alain Ducasse to come up with a set of pro appliances capable of any gastrotechnics you’re likely to see on Masterchef. They include the obligatory blast chiller, for instant cooling or freezing and a vacuum machine in which to seal food before cooking in a combination oven on low heat.
Do we really need these items? Well, a blast chiller will set a dessert in minutes, while vacuum-sealing meat and cooking it for many hours at precise, really low temperatures with all the juices held in produces unimaginably delicious results - and is a boon to observant cooks over Shabbat.
Grand Cuisine offers a gas hob, searing hob, induction zones, a stand mixer and a bespoke ventilation system. For £78,000 you would be entitled to expect the multi-Michelinstarred Ducasse himself to come and demonstrate — but instead, purchasers will have to be content with a chef without a famous name.
By contrast, a similar set-up from KitchenAid looks like a bargain at only £12,512. Chef Touch consists of a steam oven, vacuum-sealer and a blast chiller, which can either be built in in separate locations or installed as one free-standing unit. Bought separately, the steam oven costs £1,675, the vacuum machine £2,590 and the chiller/freezer £4,450. It is worth noting that vacuum-sealing meat, fish or poultry in an oxygen-free environment extends its fridge life by three times before you cook it.
Still longing for a top chef to visit your home? You’ll get one to yourself for two hours if you inquire about purchasing a Thermomix — Alan Murchison of L’Ortolan is among the many top chefs who are impressed with it; he has four of in his restaurant kitchen. We watched in wonder as our own demonstrator made us, in rapid succession, Parmesan breadcrumbs, bread dough (there is a challah recipe), a chopped salad, sweet potato and ginger soup and a blueberry sorbet. The joy of this bit of kit is actually cooking in the machine, which will make soup and risotto from scratch, keep it hot for 45 minutes and eventually wash itself up (if you fill it with water and a squirt of washingup liquid).
At half the price, the Vita Mix uses friction, rather than a heating element, to cook soup from scratch,